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Full text of "A history of the copper mines and Newgate Prison, at Granby, Conn. : also, of the captivity of Daniel Hayes, of Granby, by the Indians, in 1707"

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Of Granbjr, by the Indians, In 1707. 










Of Granby, by the Indians, In 1707. 






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record and other documentary proot. 

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The Copper Mines. Discovery. Magnitude of the Works. Amount of Disbursements. 
Smelting Works at Hanover. The Phceuix Mining Company. 1705—1833. 

^' The copper mines, known afterwards as the site of the 
celebrated state prison, called Newgate, are situated on the 
Avest side of the east mountain in Granby. The place, for 
many years, was called " Copper Hill." It is not known 
at what period copper ore was first discovered here. The 
fii;st record evidence relating to the mines is under date of 
December, 1705, when, at a town meeting of the inhabit- 
ants of Simsbury,* upon suggestion made " that there was 
a mine either of silver or copper found in the town," a 
committee was appointed to make search for the same and 
report to a future meeting.^ 

The report of the conmiittee does not appear on record, 
but is presumed to have been favorable to the discovery, for 
in 1707 an association, comprising all such proprietors of 
the town as had subscribed, or who within a limited time 
should subscribe the articles of agreement, was formed to 
work the mines. Copper-hill at this time was a wilder- 
ness ; — and as none of the lands in that vicinity had been 
sold or granted, the right of soil remained in the " proprie- 
tors of the town," nearly all of whom came into this agree- 
ment. The association, after deducting the expenses of the 
works, was to allow the town ten shillings on each ton of 
copper produced, and to divide the residue among the part- 
ners of the concern in proportion to the amounts of their 
respective lists. The mining operations commenced about 
this time, and under this partnership concern. 

*The mines then, and for eighty years afterwards, were within the town of 


This company dug the ore only — they did not undertake 
to smelt it. But, in the same year, they entered into a con- 
tract with Messrs. John Woodbridge of Springfield, Dudley 
Woodbridge of Simsbury, and Timothy Woodbridge Jr. 
then of Hartford, all clergymen, by which these gentlemen 
agreed to run and refine the ore, and cast the metal into 
bars fit for transportation or a market ; — and after deducting 
the tenth part belonging to the town, of which two-thirds 
thereof was to be given for the maintenance " of an able 
schoolmaster in Simsbury," and the other third to the 
" Collegiate school," Yale College, — the residue was to be 
equally divided between them and the proprietors or work- 
ers of the mine. 

The business was carried on in this manner but a few 
years — probably because the smelting process was not 
understood, and could not be proceeded with to the advan- 
tage of either parly. In 1712, the proprietors, or " asso- 
ciation," appointed a committee to call the contractors " to 
account, and, if necessary, to sue them for the ore that had 
been brought to them at divers times." 

The legislatiue, in consideration that " a public benefit" 
might result from these mines, and to aid the proprietors in 
the management thereof, passed an act in 1709, vesting the 
right to control all matters relating to the mines " in the 
major jjartof the proprietors according to the interest of each 
proprietor," and providing for organizing and holding meet- 
ings of the proprietors, and appointing a committee to man- 
age their concerns. The act also provided for the adjudi- 
cation of all matters in controversy between any and all 
persons connected with the mines, by a board of three com- 
missioners, with power to summon a jury in cases where the 
sum in controversy exceeded acertain amount. Tliiscouit 
held its sessions generally at the mines, tliough sometimes 
at other places. It had a clerk, and its jurisdiction, in 
amount of damages claimed, was co-extensive witli that of 
County courts. A vast deal of !)usiness was disposi^d of by 
this tribunal, by the agency of which, both time and expense 
was saved by the litigating parties. 


The business on the part of the proprietors was managed 
under the provisions of this net, and other simdar acts, by a 
.committee appointed annually during the whole lime that 
the mines were worked, (before the Phcenix company com- 
menced operations,) a period of over si^ty years. This 
•committee, at various times, made leases to several individ- 
uals or companies, of certain portions or specified rights in 
the common lands where copper ore had been or might be 
discovered, during a term of years ; — the lessees on their 
part agreeing to pay to the committee a per centage on the 
ore procured ; or a certain portion, generally one-thirtieth 
part, of the copper extracted from the ore and manufactured 
fit for market. In no case did any of these leases extend 
beyond thiity years. 

Some of the wealthiest capitalists in Boston and New 
York, took leases and embarked in the enterprise. A com- 
pany too, belonging to Holland, and another company 
belonging to London, were for many years interested in the 
concern, and furnished large sums of money to carry on the 
works. The Woodbridge family, and at least one member 
of the Wyllys family, were many years largely engaged in 
the business. These mining operations were very exten- 
sively pursued from 1713 to about 1737,, and to some extent 
until the war o-f 1775. The amomU of money expended 
cannot be ascertained, but must have been very large. 
During a period of two years from August, 1716, one com- 
pany, under the superintendence of Elias Boudinot,* ex- 
pended about three thousand dollars. A petition, dated in 
1723, states that "the copper works had brought into this 
plantation from foreign countries^ al)Out ten thousand 
pounds." Governor Belcher, of Boston, iji a letter dated 
1735, states that during about twenty-three years, he had 
disbursed upwards of fiUeen thousand pounds.f The expeu- 

• This Mr. Boudinot resided for some time in Simsbury. He was ancestor 
of the late Hias Boudinot, of New Jersey, who was a distinguished states- 
man, and the first superintendent of the United States Mint at Philadelphia. 

t This letter is addressed to John Humphry, Joseph Pettibone.and Samuel 
Pettibone, a committee of the proprietors, who had called upon him to settle 


ditures of the other companies are not known, but in the 
aggregate must have amounted to a large sum. 

After 1721, when a division of the mining lands took 
place among the lessees, each company worked at separate 
mines, all situated upon Copper-hill, and (excepting Hig- 
ley's) within the compass of less than one mile. The works 
most improved, and where the greatest excavations were 
made, were subsequently purchased for a state prison. At 
this place,two perpendicular shafts were dug, chiefly through 
rocks, one extending to the depth of over seventy feet, and 
the other about thirty-five feet. From the bottom of these 
shafts .caverns excavated for ore extend in various direc- 
tions, some four or five hundred feet, including "levels" 
or drains for discharging the water. Some parts of these 
excavations are now entirely filled with water. At Higley's 
mine, which lies about a mile and a half south of this, 
extensive old workings exist, though commenced at a later 
period than the others. Mr. Edmund Quincy, of Boston, 
had a company of miners working at this place at the break- 
ing out of the war of the revolution ; soon after which the 
works were abandoned. 

In 1731, a new company was formed, consisting of Adam 
Winthrop, George Cradock, James Bowdoin, Job Lewis, 
Joshua Winslow, Benjamin Pemberton and North Ingham, 
all of Boston, who took a lease by which a sixth pait of the 
mines was conveyed to them for the term of thirty yeai-s. 
This lease was signed by Samuel Humphry, Joseph Case, 
and Joseph Phelps, a comnnttee in behalf of the town pro- 
prietors. It is not known to what extent, or how long, this 
company pursued the business. 

In addition to the persons already named as lessees, or 
otherwise interested in the mines, Jared Elliot of Killing- 
worth,* Jahleel Brenton of Rhode Island, Charles Cromme- 

for back rents. The original letter is in the possession of Dcsitheus Humphry 
Esq. a descendant of John Humphry Esq. 

* A clergyman and physician of great celebrity, who resided at Killing- 
worth. - 


lin of New York, William Patridgc of Boston, and sundry 
other persons, were concerned at various times, and in differ- 
ent companies. 

Engineers and superintendents from Europe, some of 
them persons of distinction, and miners from Germany, 
were employed in these works. Among them were Major 
John Sydervelt, who remained in Simsbury until bis death; 
Caspar Hoofman, who died heie March 21, 1732; and John 
Christian Miiller, a principal refiner, who married and died 

Connected with these mines were works for smelting and 
refining. These were erected about the year 1721, upon 
Hop brook, in Simsbury, a few rods westerly of the upper or 
TuUer's mills, and consisted of sundry buildings, in addition 
to a mill for crashing or pounding the ore, and a furnace. 
The place was called Hanover, a name yet retained, which 
was given to it by the workmen who had emigrated from a 
place of the same name in Germany. A portion of the ore 
dug at the mines was smelted at these works, — but to what 
extent this business was prosecuted, or with what success, is 
not known. In 1725, when this property was attached, 
there was found and levied upon one thousand seven hun- 
dred pounds of black copper, so called, it is supposed, 
because it was not refined. This branch of the business, 
however, being prohibited by tbe laws of Great Britain, was 
carried on secretly, and consequently at great disadvantage ; 
and with the other embarrassments mentioned, relating to 
smelting, resulted in a probable loss. The Hanover works, 
of v\'hich but few indications now remain, were dcmolislied 
many y(\ars since. The ore procured at tbe mines, which 
was not l)rought here for smelting, was shipped to England. 
One cargo was taken by the French, and auotber, accord- 
ing to report, was sunk in the English cliannel by ship- 
wreck. Other cargoes arrived in Europe, where the ore 
was smelted. 

* His wife was Hannah Weston, by whom he had twocliildren before 1731. 
It is believed that after his death the name was changed to Miller, and that 
some of his descendants now live in Granby. 


Iq these mining operations, but little comparatively was 
done after 1745, though at no time, it is believed, was the 
business wholly abandoned until 1778. In 1772, Captain 
James Holmes, an Englishman, then a resident of Salisbury, 
took a lease of the principal mine for twenty years, which 
he sold the next year to the state for a prison. 

A coin made from this ore, called " Higley's Coppers," 
was at one time in some circulation in the vicinity of the 
mines. It is said to have passed for two and sixpence, 
(forty-two cents,) in paper currency it is presumed, though 
composed chiefly, if not entirely, of copper. 

One of these coins, dated 1737, is in the cabinet of the 
Connecticut Historical Society. Its inscription on one side 
is, "I am good copper ; "—on the other, "Value me as 
you please." These coppers were much used for meltmg 
up with gold 'in the manufacture of jewelry, and for this 
purpose were considered vastly preferable to ordinary cop- 
per coin. They were not in circulation as a currency after 
the peace of 1783. The inventor and maker, is supposed 
to have been Doct. Samuel Higley who, a few years before 
this, had attempted to manufacture steel, and was somewhat 
distinguished for enterprises of this character. 

The Phojnix Mining Company, incorporated in 1830, 
having purchased the state prison property, consisting of 
about five acres of land, with sundry buildings enclosed by 
a stone wall, and having secured, by long leases, the right 
of mining upon large tracts of other lands lying in the 
vicinity, commenced mining operations in 1831, under the 
superintendency of Richard Bacon Est], of Simsbury. Owing 
however to some unforeseen dilliculties in the process of 
smelting and refining the ore, and other obstructions occa- 
sioned by the pecuniary embarrassments of the times, the 
works after a short time were discontinued. That they will 
be resumed at some future time under more favorable aus- 
pices, and with a fairer prospect of success, is confidently 
believed by those who are conversant with the business, and 
have devoted to these mines a critical examination. 

A gentleman who has been extensively engaged in this 


business in Europe, and who is said to be an experienced 
and scientific miner, speaking of these mines, says : — 

" The principal vein is hirge, and one which, in mining 
pliraseology, would he termed aflat lode, making with the 
horizon an angle of perhaps twenty-three degrees. Its 
matrix is a yellowish grey sandstone, nearly similar to the 
common sandstone of the neighborhood, but yet so percep- 
tibly differing from it, as to allow of its being traced at sur- 
face, for at least a mile, north and south, by its characteristic 
color and general appearance. In tliis matrix, copper is 
pretty generally disseminated, principally in nodules of rich 
brittle grey sulphuret, interspersed here and there with 
minute strings of common yellow pyrites. The lode ap- 
pears to be favorably disposed for yielding mineral and 
copper ore in particular." 

The ore, it is said, produces on an average, from ten to 
twelve per cent of co})per, but some large specimens have 
been obtained, producing from thirty to forty per cent. It 
is of the kind technically called " refractory," — a species 
that ordinarily resists the usual process of smelting. Other 
processes, however, have led to more successful results. 
By skill, enterprise and new experiments, all impediments 
of this nature will, it is believed be easily removed. ' 


Newgate Paisoif. Establishment. Destruction of Buildings by Fire. Escape of Con- 
victs. Confinement of Tories. Employment of Prisoners. Police Regulations. 

The General Assembly, at the May session, 1773, in view 
of establishing a state prison, appointed William Pitkin, 
Erastus Wolcott, and Jonathan Humphrey Esq'rs, a com- 
mittee *' to view and explore the copper mines at Sims- 
bury, — their situation, nature and circumstances, and to 
examine and consider whether they may be beneficially 
applied to the purpose of confining, securing and profitably 
employing such criminals and delinquents as may be com- 
mitted to them, by any futiiro law or laws of this Colony, 
in lieu of the infamous punishments in divers cases now 
appointed ; — and at what probable expense the said mines 
may be obtained for the purpose aforesaid ;" and make 
report to the then session of tiie Assembly. 

Upon their report that the mines were subject to an unex- 
pired lease of nineteen years, which coukl be purcliased for 
about sixty pounds, and that by an expenditure of about 
thirty-seven pounds, the caverns could be so secured that it 
would be " next to impossible for any person to escape" 
from them; tlie same gentlemen were invested "with full 
power to agree with the proprietors of said mines, or the 
lessees thereof, to receive, keep and employ in said mines such 
criminals as may by law be sentenced to sucli punishment, 
or to purchase in the remaining term in said h'ases, for such 
purposes, and according to their best (hscr( tion elfectually 
to secure said mines suitably to employ such })ersons as 
may be there confined by order of law." 

The committee reported at the next session, Oct. 1773, 


that they had purchased the remaining term of Hohnes'' 
lease, being- about nineteen years, for ,£60 — that by blasting 
rocks they had "prepared a well finished lodging room, 
about fifteen feet by twelve," in the caverns, — and had 
fixed over the west shaft a large iron door, which they " ap- 
prehend will be an effectual security for the confinement of 
persons that may be condemned there for employment." 
The whole expense, including the purchase money, amount- 
ed to three hundred and seventy dollars. The east shaft 
which extends perpendicularly about seventy feet, chiefly 
through a solid rock, was left open. There were no walls 
provided, nor were there any buildings upon the premises. 
At this session, an Act was passed " constituting the subter- 
raneous caverns and buildings in the copper mines in Sims- 
bury, a public gaol and workhouse for the use of the 
Colony ;" to which was given the name of Newgate Prison. 
The prisoners were to be employed in mining. The crimes, 
which by the Act subjected offenders to confinement and 
labor in the prison, were — burglary, horse stealing, and 
counterfeiting the public bills or coins, or making instru- 
ments or dies therefor. 

The first overseers of Newgate appointed, were Major 
Erastus Wolcott, Josiah Bissell and Jonathan Humphrey 
Esq'rs. Mr. John Viets,* who lived near the place, was 
appointed master, or keeper of the prison. Food for the 
prisoners was supplied by him. 

The first convict received into the prison was John Hin- 
son. He was committed Dec, 22, 1773, and escaped on the 
9lh of January following, by being drawn up through the 
eastern shaft by a rope, assisted, it is said, by a woman, to 
whom he was paying his addresses. On the 26th of Feb- 
ruary, 1774, three prisoners were received ; — one of whom 
escaped on the 9th, and the other two on the 23d of the 
next April. One committed on the 5th of April, escaped on 
the 9th of the same month, having been in confinement 

* The ancestor of Mr. Viets was a CJerman, and came to this country with 
a company of miners, to which he was attached as physician and surgeon. 



four days. It is not known how these escapes were cflected. 
Besides the east sltaft which was left open, there were other 
parts of the caverns which had not been properly secured. 
None of these prisoners, it is understood, were retaken. 
By this time, the overseers had probably changed their 
minds respecting the perfect security of the ])rison. A night 
watch was employed during part of this time. 

Soon after the escape of Hinson, the GeneraLAssembly 
in January 1774, directed the overseers to cause the east 
shaft to be effectually secured with stone or iron, and to 
build a log block-house with two or three rooms, one of 
which was to be placed directly over the west shaft. These 
improvements were made during this year, but not until 
after the escape of the other prisoneis mentioned above. 

In the spring of 1775, three prisoners escaped, all of whom 
were retaken. At the May session of this year, the Assem- 
bly ordered the overseers to make sale of the ore dug at the 
prison. There were at this time nine convicts in confine- 
ment, all of whom were engaged in excavating copper ore 
under the charge of two persons employed as miners. 

The block-liouse having been destroyed by fire in the 
spring of 1776, the Assembly, in May, ordered a new one 
to be constructed, and also a frame dwelling house, for the 
keeper of the prison, one story high, eighteen by thirty feet. 
This burning was by design, to favor the escape of the 
convicts, none of whom however escaped at this time. 

In 1777. the block-bouse was again burnt, and another 
one ordered to be built. All the prisoners were removed to 
the jail in Hartford for confinement. It is supposed that 
the jirison was not repaired, or used as such, until 1780. 
If it was repaired before; that lime, the buildings were again 
destroyed, for at tlie session of the At=scmbly in January 
1779, the prison being represented "to be in a ruinous con- 
dition," and " altogether insuflicient to answer the salutary 
purposes for which it was prepared," the overseers were 
directed to erect new buildings, with " a block-house on (he 
surface of the ground over the mouth of the cavern, suitable 
and convenient to secure and employ the prisoners in labor 


in the day time ;" and wlien completed to appoint a keeper 
of the prison. 

The prison was completed in November 1780, and was 
supplied with a military guard consisting of a lieutenant, 
one sergeant, one corporal and twenty-four privates. Up to 
this time, the prisoners had been employed in the mines, 
and been furnished with food by persons not connected with 
the prison*. Now they were employed in mechanical ope- 
rations, and supplied with food prepared in the prison. 

The prison had been left entirely unprotected by any 
wall until ]781. In February of this year, the overseers 
were directed by the Assembly to construct, at a convenient 
distance around the prison and buildings, a piquet fence 
with small bastions at the corners for defense. A work of 
this kind was much needed, and notwithstanding the com- 
bustible material with which it was constructed, it tended 
very much to strengthen the prison. In other respects too, 
the prison was in a much better condition than at any pre- 
vious time. 

But, one of the most daring andsuccessful attempts ever 
made at this prison to overcome the guard and throw open 
the prison doors, was made after this time, and when, as 
was supposed, a general escape of the convicts was imprj^c- 
ticable. On the iSth of May 1781, the prisoners, amount- 
ing to twenty-eight persons, most of whom were tories, rose 
upon the guard, seized their arms, and made good their 
escape — carrying their captured arms with them. Every 
prisoner left. The design was so well planned and execu- 
ted, that but a small number of them were re-captured. 

It was supposed that one or more of the guard had been 
bribed to favor the escape of the prisoners. About ten 
o'clock at night on the ISth of May 1781, when all the 
guard but two had retired to rest, a wife of one of the pris- 
oners appeared, to whom permission was given to visit her 
husband in the caverns. Upon the hatches being opened 
to admit her passing down, the prisoners, who were at the 
door and prepared for the encounter, rushed up, seized the 
guns of the sentry on duty, who made little or no resistance, 

N E W G A T K P R I S O N . l5 

and became masters of tlie guard room before those who 
were asleep could be aroused and prepaied to make defense. 
One brave fellow, by name of Sheldon, who was an officer 
of the guard, fought valiantly, and was killed upon the spot, 
having been pierced by a bayonet through his body. A few 
others, belonging to the guard, received trifling injuries from 
clubs with which the assailants were armed. The guard 
was easily overcome. A few sought safety by flight, — but 
the greater number were disarmed by the prisoners and 
locked up in the caverns. The prisoners, having equipped 
themselves with the captured arms, escaped, and with lew- 
exceptions had the adroitness, or good luck, to avoid a 

The General Assembly, then in session, appointed a com- 
mittee to investigate this matter, and ascertain the causes 
of the disaster. The committee after a critical examina- 
tion, reported the testimony taken by them ; — from which 
it appears that the discipline of the guard was defective — 
that their conduct at the time of the revolt was, with few 
exceptions, cowardly— and that at least one person, by the 
name of Lilly, was bribed and favored the escape of the 
prisoners. Lilly was afterwards prosecuted and convicted 
of this offence ; and the gnard was so remodeled as to give 
greater security to the prison thereafter. 

On the 6th of November 1782, the prison buildings were 
once more destroyed by fire ; but how, or by what means 
the fire was communicated, does not appear. No doulit, 
however, exists that the conflagration was by design, m 
order to facilitate the escape of the tories who were there in 
confinement. Duiing the progress of the fire, one Abel 
Davis, who was asergeantof the guard, opened the hatches 
and suffered as many of the prisoners, as were so disposed, 
to escape from the prison. A large number of them did 
escape, most of whom were re-captured in the neighbor- 
hood and secured. Davis, who seems to have been very 
illitemte, and altogether unfit for the station which he held, 
was convicted of ihe offence of aiding in the escape, and 
sentenced to a fiae and imprisonment in the county jail. 


The prisoners remaining after this conflagration, with 
those subsequently re-taken, were removed to the jail in 
Hartford. The prison was not repaired, nor nsed again 
until 1790. Indeed, it would seem that, at this time, the 
project of keeping up a prison at this place was abandoned 
altogether. No measures were taken to repair it, — on the 
contrary, in May 1784, all the property remaining at the 
prison and saved from the fire, consisting of iron, timber, clo- 
thing, &c. was ordered by the legislature to be sold, and the 
avails paid into the treasury. Little else but disaster had 
attended the prison from its establishment. More than one 
half of all the prisoners committed to it had escaped, and 
during the nine years of its continuance, the buildings con- 
nected with it had been destroyed by fire three times. In 
no respect had the prison been properly constructed or 
secured. The buildings were of wood, and so exposed as 
to be easily fired from without. Prison building in those 
days, as well as prison discipline, was not so well under- 
stood as at the present time. All the jails in the state were 
then constructed of wood. 

And yet this prison had a reputation abroad for great 
strength and security. Its fame had spread through the 
country far and wide. For a long time it was considered 
the strongest prison in the United States. In 1775, Gen. 
Washington sent to it some prisoners for safe custody, whom 
he deemed such " atrocious villains," as to require a stronger 
place for their confinement than could be found near his 
camp.* And, in 1781, Congress proposed to make these 

* Letter from Gen. Washington, to the Committee of Safety, Simsbury. 

Cambridge, December 11, 1775. 
Gentlemen ; — The prisoners which will be delivered you with this, hav- 
ing been tried by a court-martial, and deemed to be such flagrant and atro- 
cious villains that they cannot by any means be set at large or confined in any 
place near this camp, were sentenced to be sent to Symsbury in Connecticut. 
You will therefore be pleased to have them secured in your jail, or in such 
other manner as to you shall seem necessary, so that they cannot oossibly 
make their escape. The charges of their imprisonment will be at the Con- 
tinental expense. 

I am &c. 

George Washington. 

N E W G A T E P R I S O N . 17 

mines "a state prison for the reception of British prisoners 
of war, and for the purpose of retaliation ;" and asked from 
the Governor of this state a pkm and estimates of expense. 
Governor Trumbull laid the matter before the General 
Assembly, who assented to the proposition, and requested 
him to furnish for Congress the plan and estimates required. 
What these were, do not appear, but the subject was drop- 
ped, probably for the reason that soon after this time a ter- 
mination of the war was anticipated. 

Mention has already been made of the confinement of 
tories in this prison. No person of this description was 
imprisoned here until 1780, when an Act was passed author- 
ising' the superior court to sentence to confinement in New- 
gate, such persons as should be convicted of certain specified 
crimes against the g'overnnient not amounting to treason, 
but which consisted of certain overt acts deemed prejudicial 
to the cause of independenee. Courts Mai tial too, exercised 
the power of sentencing to this prison persons found guilty 
of similar ollenses. The whole number of persons, called 
tories, imprisoned, did not, it is believed, exceed forty. At 
one time there were upwards of twenty in the prison, all of 
whom, as before stated, escaped on the 18th of May 1781. 
Among them were persons of some note and distinction. 
The leader of this rebellion was a Captain Peter Sackett, 
who had rendered himself notorious, as well as extremely 
obnoxious, by his adherence to the cause of )h.e British 

A new Act, more perfect and specific in its details than 
the former one, was passed in 1790, constituting tlie caverns 
at these mines, with a small quantity of land over them, a 
state prison, denominated, as before, Newgate. The act 
provided for the appointment of three overseers, who were 
directed to cause a workshop and a dwelling house for the 
keeper lo be erected, and to enclose them with a piquet wall 
or fence, — and to a])point a keeper, with aguard not exceed- 
ing ten persons, to manage and protect the prison. The 
expense of rebuilding it was limited to j£750. Persons con- 
victed of burglary, robbery, horsc-slealing, counterfeiting, 


passing counterfeit money, knowing it to be such, and aid- 
ing in the escape of convicts from the prison, were to be 
confined at hard labor in this pkice for a term of yeais, or, 
in some cases, during the life of the culprit. Subsequently, 
for a few other crimes, the offender was subjected to impris- 
onment here. 

The Hon. John Tread well, and Roger Newberry, and 
Pliny Hillyer Esq. were appointed the overseers. A large 
workshop and a dwelling house, both of brick, w^ere con- 
structed, together with sundry other buildings of minor con- 
sequence. Under the west end of the dwelling house was 
a small room well secured by massive stone walls, from 
which led the only passage to the caverns beneath. This 
entrance was perforated through a solid rock, and contained 
a ladder by which passage to or from the caverns was made. 
The mouth of this entrance, as was also the one leading into 
this room from the guard-room above, was well secured 
by a trap door with lock and heavy bolts. A wooden fence, 
furnished with spikes on the top, enclosed these buildings 
with about half an acre of land for a yard. 

The prison was finished in October 1790, and Major Peter 
Curtiss was appointed the keeper, to whom with a guard of 
ten men was committed its management. 

From this time, the affairs of the piison assumed a new 
aspect. The prison was more securely built, and better 
managed than at any former period. Escapes from it were 
rare, and there were no instances of a general rebellion, or 
an entire clearing out of its inmates as formerly. 

The system of discipline and employment, as at first 
adopted, continued to be followed, with but slight varia- 
tions, until the removal of the convicts to the new state 
prison in 1827. As a general rule, the prisoners were lodged 
in the caverns. At day light, they weie taken up and 
removed to the work shop, where they remained until four 
o'clock P. M., when they were returned to the caverns. 
They took their meals in the work shop. These consisted 
of coarse food prepared in the prison, which was dealt out 
to them by rations. Nearly all of them wore fetters strongly 


rivctted to their ankles. The most refractory, and desperate 
of their number, were more heavily ironed. In general, 
when at work, they were chained at their respective blocks 
in the shop, and a portion of them were secured by an extra 
chain leading from a band around ihe neck to a beam in the 

The punishment for misconduct, or offences committed 
in the prison, was whipping, short rations, extra ironing, 
and, in some specified cases designated by statute, an addi- 
tional term of imprisonment. Each prisoner had a fixed 
amount of work to perform each day. Those who did extra 
work had the benefit of it in an allowance on the bills of 
costs incurred in their prosecutions. 

At first, all the prisoners were employed in making 
wrought nails, the iron for which was procured at Canaan 
and Salisbury. This business was followed during the 
whole time of the continuance of the prison at this place, 
and was, for many years, the chief occupation of the con- 
victs. A few other branches of manufacture were carried 
on, though not extensively. After 1820, a large number 
of the convicts were employed in the maiuifacture of shoes, 
wagons and various other articles, by which a greater profit 
was derived than from the nail making business. Indeed, 
the manufacture of nails at this place had always been 
attended with loss to the state. 

In 1802, a substantial stone wall, twelve feet high, was 
built around the premises, having a gate which was never 
opened except by a sentinel under arms on duty. Tliis 
wall was built by 'Colonel Calvin Barber of Simsbury. All 
the guards when on duty were underarms, and prepaied at 
all times to use their weapons in any confiict or outbreak 
that might happen. Their number, at first ten, was subse- 
quently increased to seventeen. The government, as well 
as the duties of the guard, partook strongly of a military 

Additional buildings were subsc'([uently erected. About 
1815, a two story building, nearly fifty feet long, was put 
upia the south east corner of the yard. The lower story 


was appropriated for cells, and the upper one for a cliapel 
in which divine service was thereafter usually held once on 
each Sunday. Adjoining- this on the west, was another 
building: of about the same length, the lower story of which 
was occupied for a cooper's shop, hospital and kitchen, and 
the upper story as a shoe maker's shop. In the northeast 
corner of the yard was another building used for making 
wagons. The cells above mentioned being weakly con- 
structed, were not much used. Still later, about 1824, a 
large edifice of stone and brick was built on the westerly 
side of the yard, which contained a tread mill, with the 
usual appurtenances for grinding grain, — a number of strong 
cells, — apartments for female convicts, — a kitchen, office, 
&c. This building was erected chiefly by convict labor. 
The tread mill, however, like all other similar ones, proved 
a failure — the labor of working it being found too expensive 
for the state, and quite too cruel for the convicts. 

In the basement story of the guard-house, and near the 
entrance to the caverns, was a strongly built apartment 
about fifteen feet square, called the "jug." This room was 
used at first for the sick, and occasionally as a lodging room 
for that class of prisoners who were known to be well dispo- 
sed, and from whom no danger of attempting an escape was 
apprehended. The other prisoners were lodged in the cav- 
erns, where their beds consisted of two large platforms sup- 
plied with straw and a few blankets. The novice in crime, 
and the most hardened villain, were thus promiscuously 
huddled together without any restraint, or immediate over- 
sight by any of the guard during the night season. 

The number of criminals in confinement after ISOO, varied 
from about forty-five to sixty, until 1821, when the number 
of offenses, punishable by confinement in Newgate, was 
considerably increased by legislative enactments. This, 
with the increase of crime, and the change about this time 
of the law relating to the punishment of female convicts, 
by which they were subjected to imprisonment here in tlie 
same manner as, for similar offenses, the males were, caused 
a considerable addition to the number of prisoners. In 



1827, when they were removed to the n6w prison at Weth- 
ersfieki, they amounted to one hundred and twenty-seven. 

The prison was never ahle to support itself from the avails 
of convict lahor. The deficiency, which was paid from the 
state treasury, varied from five thousand to over thirteen 
thousand dollars per annum. It would average about 
seven thousand dollars a year, including outlays for new 

The state having provided a new prison at Wethersfield, 
all the prisoners were removed so as to connnence operations 
there on the first of October 1827. The old prison, with its 
buildings and some five acres of land, were sold in 1830, to 
the Phffinix Mining Company, for twelve hundred dolhirs. 

. This place was greatly resorted to by visitors, and espe- 
cially so during the winter months, when there was sleigh- 
ing.* Many of them descended into the caverns, and all 
had an opportunity to inspect generally the discipline and 
the labor-system of the prison. To those unaccustomed 
to the scene, a visit to the nail-shop presented a view 
extremely revolting, and to some even terrific. Here might 
be seen some fifty men, black and white, and so besmeared 
as to be hardly distinguishable, chained to their blocks, 
busily engaged in a noisy employment, and closely watched 
and guarded by a file of men under arms. Add to this, the 
appearance of the room with its inmates and implements, 
as viewed by strong lights proceeding from the various fur- 
naces, and the continual clatter of hammers used in forging 
nails,— and some idea of tbe scene, though necessarily an 
imperfect one, may be imagined. 

Besides the revolt under Capt. Sackett, which has already 
been mentioned, and which was so successfully carried out, 
there have been several escapes, and attempts to break tlie 
prison ; a few of which are worthy of notice. 

Shortly before 1800, a number of prisoners made tiicir 
escape by opening one of the shafts which had been filled 

• In a report made by tbe overseers in IS 10, it is stated tbat the niunber of 
visitors to tlie prison would average (our bundred and tifty monthly. 


up and, as was supposed, well secured by stones strongly 
bolted together. It was a work of great labor, and must 
have been a long while in progress. 

In 1802, when the keeper and nearly all the officers and 
guard were sick and off duty, the prisoners, at the time of 
being returned to the caverns, rose upon the small remnant 
of guard able to be on duty, and attempted to escape. By 
the prompt action and indomitable courage of Mr. Dan 
Forward, a private, and who was indued with great mus- 
cular strength, the prisoners were subdued and safely secured 
under the hatches. It is supposed that this revolt was ill 
matured, or not generally known, for it did not commence 
until, a large portion of the convicts had descended into the 
caverns. Had it been well managed, it would, probably, 
have succeeded, as the guard was too weak to quell a gen- 
eral rebellion on an occasion like this. 

There was another rebellion in 1806. Nearly all the 
convicts employed in the nail shop had been supplied with 
pewter keys, with which to unlock their fastenings, manu- 
factured by some very skillful mechanics then in prison. 
At a given signal, the convicts were to unlock the chains 
which confined them to their stations, and make a concerted 
attack upon the guard. The signal was given — the men 
released tbemselves — and two of them commenced the 
attack by siezing the officer on duty so suddenly as to disable 
him from using his weapons in defense. A short scuffle 
ensued, during which one of the guard, not on duty in that 
shop, ran to the place and shot one of the ring leaders, a 
negro, dead upon tbe spot. This event so disheartened the 
rest that they immediatel}^ returned to their places and sued 
for mercy. 

In the spring of 1822, nearly all the prisoners, then 
amounting to over one hundred, concerted a plan to over- 
power the guard and effect their escape. The time selected 
for the attempt was during the temporary absence of the 
keeper and three of the guard ; — the force remaining on 
duty being fourteen persons. Their plan was to have a 
general rising in all the shops at a given signal. The sig- 



nal was given in the nail shop, when the attack commenced. 
One of the guard was knocked down and his arms taken 
from him, and another was seized and mastered. During 
the scuffle which ensued, a reinforcement arrived upon the 
ground. Two of the insurgents were shot at and wounded, 
though not mortally, which terminated the affiay. There 
was no outbreak in the other shops— probably the signal 
was not heard. 

On the night precedmg the removal of the prisoners to 
the new prison in Wethersfield, one of the convicts, by the 
name of Starkey, was killed in attempting to make his 
escape. The shaft, used for a well, communicated with one 
of the caverns about seventy feet below the surface of the 
earth. The top of this shaft was well secured by a hatch, 
which it was intended should be always fastened down in 
the night season. On this evening, the well was left open, 
and, as appearances would indicate, by design. Starkey 
attempted to ascend by climbing the rope used for drawing 
water. In making the ascent, the rope broke, by which 
he was precipitated to the bottom, where he was found 

The convicts, while at this prison, generally enjoyed 
good health. With but a single exception, which was 
readily accounted for by local causes, no contagious disease 
had ever occurred here. The caverns, as a lodging place, 
were generally deemed conducive to health. Those afflicted 
with cutaneous diseases were often cured. The temperature 
was uniform at all seasons of the year, being, as indicated 
by the thermometer, at about fifty-two degrees. 

The inmates of this prison formed a motley group. 
Amongst them might be found rogues of high celebrity— 
the most hardened and reckless— the cunning and adroit— 
and often mechanics and artizans gifted with ingenuity and 
skill of a high order. Persons well educated, with a large 
class of the most illiterate and degraded— negroes and 
whites— young and old— were all to be found here as com- 
mon associates, and generally as bed-fellows. 

Some of the prisoners obtained a high reputation for their 


roguery. One, by the name of Newman, published an ac- 
count of his long career in crime and prison-breaking which, 
if true, would entitle him to the highest rank among vil- 
lains. He was, at times, quite successful in playing off his 
deceptions. While in this prison, before his pranks were 
discovered, he avoided labor by feigning sickness. He could 
at any time raise blood, which his attendants supposed pro- 
ceeded from his lungs. By feigning other symptoms of a 
' pulmonary decline, he had strongly enlisted the sympathy 
of the guard, and was exempted from labor. His object 
was to avert the vigilance of his keepers, and thereby effect 
his escape. Being foiled in this, he proceeded still further 
and feigned fits. He contrived to manage these tricks so 
well, that it was some time before the deception was dis- 
covered. Succeeding in none of his deceptious practices, 
he was, after all his trouble, compelled to serve out the 
term of his imprisonment. In another prison, by counter- 
feiting death, he came very near effecting his escape ; — at 
least it is so stated in his memoir. 

Another convict, by name Parker, after his release from 
prison, had extraordinary success in deceiving the weak- 
minded, by assuming the name and identity of persons who, 
by long absence from their friends, were supposed to be 
dead. He passed, for some time, as the long lost son of an 
aged pair ; and, at another time, imposed himself upon a 
woman as her husband who had been absent many years. 
He also at times pretended to be a clergyman, and had 
some success in this branch of his deceptive career. 

A prisoner by the name of Corson, after his discharge, in 
1826, published an account of his exploits, from which, it 
would appear, that his character for villainy was well earned, 
and correctly bestowed, — and that the safety of the public 
required impermanent abode for him in some strong prison. 

But, one of the most desperate and dangerous of the gang 
was a convict of the name of Sloan, who, in 1821, was sen- 
tenced for a long term of years for passing counterfeit money, 
a large amount of which was also found in his possession. 
While in Hartford jail, before his commitment to Newgate, 

N E W G A T E P R I S O N . 25 

he nearl}^ effected his escape by a bold and daring plot. 
Indued with extraordinary muscular power — and being 
reckless and courageous, yet cool and circumspect — he 
became one of the most dangerous and troublesome prison- 
ers at Newgate. He was the leader in all insuirections, and 
was kept in subjection only by loading him heavily with 
irons. In attempting to make his escape, he struck down 
one of the guard, injuring him severely, for which outrage 
he was subjected to an additional term of imprisonment. 

The annals of Newgate furnish many incidents of an 
interesting character. Some of them, depending on irnih- 
tion, are so intermixed with fiction as to become nearly val- 
ueless, and will soon pass into oblivion. A larger portion, 
resting on better authority, remain, and furnish a mass of 
information worthy of preservation. 

As a place for criminals, this prison never fully answered 
the purposes intended by the government. The guilty 
were ixK]ce(\ punished — but rarely ever reformed. The free 
intercourse among all classes of offenders, allowed during 
the nigbt season, was well calculated to make all adepts in 
roguery, and better fitted tlian ever for a new career in crime, 
when, at the termination of imprisonment, they should again 
mix with the world. No system, aiming at the reformation 
of an offender, could be worse than this. Under such a 
schoolings reformation could hardly be expected ; — it cer- 
tainly was never realized to any considerable extent. Few, 
if any, left the prison better men, or more favorably dispo- 
sed to regard the rights of society, or obey its laws. As a 
general rule, the convicts left the prison more hardened, 
and more disposed tlian ever to engage in new criminal 
enterprises, and with a better knowledge of the manner both 
of committing offenses, and evading detection. 

The state having erected a new prison at Wethersfield, 
which was completed in September 1827, all the prisoners 
remaining were removed fromNewgatelo this prit^on tm the 
30th of that month ; — a few of them having previously been 
taken out to work on the new prison. 

The persons appointed overseers of the prison, fron) its 



first establishment, were, — Erastus Wolcott, Josiah Bissell, 
Jonathan Humphry, Asahel Holcomb, James Forward, 
Matthew Griswold, Roger Newbury, John Treadwell, Pliny 
Hillyer, Samuel Woodruff, Martin Sheldon, Reuben Barker, 
Jonathan Pettibone Jr. and Thomas K. Brace. 

Keepers: — John Viets,* Peter Curtiss, Major Reuben 
Humphreys, Col. Thomas Sheldon, Salmon Clark, Charles 
Washburn, Elam Tuller, Alexander H. Griswold and 
Andrew Denison. 

* Mr. Viets, who was appointed by the General Assembly, resigned in 
1776. From this time, until I7S2, the office was held by a number of per- 
sons, — the keeper being the chief officer of the guard for the .time being. 
Under the new act of 1790, the keepers were appointed by the overseers. 
Mr. Curtiss was the first one appointed after this time. 



In the fall of 1707, Daniel Hayes, at the age of twenty- 
two years, was taken by the Indians and carried captive into 
Canada. He resided at Salmon brook, now the central part 
of Granby, which, being- at that time the northern point of 
settlement in the town, Avas peculiarly exposed to sudden 
invasions by the Indians. The circumstances attending this 
transaction, as preserved by tradition, are as follows.* 

Some two or three years before Hayes was taken, he was 
at a house-raising in Weatauge, when, very inconsiderately, 
and out of mere wanton sport, he cut off the tail of a dog 
belonging to an Indian, who, a stranger and entirely 
unknown, happened to be present. The master of the dog, 
though he uttered no complaint, manifested such emotions 
of ill will and revenge, that Hayes, before they separated, 
deemed it prudent for himself to attempt to pacify him. 
He sought therefore a reconciliation, by proposing to drink 
logether, and offered, moreover, reparation for the injury. 
But the Indian rejected all overtures, and left the ground, 
evidently in a surly and unreconciled mood of mind, and, 

• The materials from which this account is compiled, were obligingly com- 
municated to the author by Samuel II. WoodrufT and Ardon B. Holcomb 
Esq'rs, of Granby. Of the general correctness of the narrative, no reasonable 
doubt can be entertained, — as the facts have been derived, not only from the 
descendants of Mr. Hayes, but also from several aged people, all of whom 
concur in their statements regarding the main and important features of the 



probably, with malice and revenge deeply impressed upon 
his heart. Nothing afterwards being heard of the Indian 
or his dog, (he circumstance, in a short time, if not forgot- 
ten, became unheeded. But, the events which follow \vere 
supposed to result from this affair.* 

On the evening before his capture, there was a corn husk- 
ing party at the house of Mr. Hayes, when, in the course of 
conversation, he remarked that early in the ensuing morn- 
ing, he should endeavor to find his horse, which was feed^ 
ing in the forests, and, as supposed, westerly of the settle- 
ment. This conversation, as appeals from the sequel, was 
overheard by Indians, who were, at that time, lurking about 
the house, and who, it is supposed, from the information 
thus obtained, devised their plans of operation for the next 

After the family had retired and were asleep, they were 
awakened by the barking of their dog, which manifested so 
much uneasiness as to induce Mr. Hayes to leave his bed, 
and, with his dog, to seek for the cause. Supposing the 
disturbance to have proceeded from the incursion of cattle 
into the corn-field contiguous to his house, (an ordinary 
occurrence in t^ose days,) and finding it unmolested, he 
again sought repose in sleep. But the dog continued rest- 
ive, and plainly made known, by his conduct, that there was 
something wrong in the neighborhood of the house. 

The next morning, at an early hour, Mr. Hayes, taking 
with him a bridle, proceeded into the forests to find his 
horse. His route led him to pass Stoney Hill, a ridge of 
land stretching north and south about eighty rods westerly 
of Salmon brook street. Upon turning round the south point 

" Thus goes the story. But the author must be allowed to say, for him- 
self, that he very much doubts whether this affair had anything to do with the 
capture of Hayes, which took place some years afterwards. The Indians, it 
is well known, were incited to such deeds by the French in Canada, to whom 
they carried their captives, and by whom, as is supposed, they were rewarded 
for the service. The more correct supposition probably is, that the captors 
came into this weak settlement, to sieze and carry off any person who might 
be thrown in their way, and that they would have taken as readily any other 
person as Hayes, if an opportunity, equally as favorable, had occurred. 



of this hill, he was seized by three Indians, who sprang upon 
I'lim from an ambush where they had secreted themselves 
from view. So suddenly and unexpectedly came this 
attack upon Hayes, that he was deprived of all power to 
make resistance, or even any attempt to escape. One 
Indian seized him by the throat — another, enjoined silence 
by putting a hand over his mouth — whilst the other, with a 
tomahawk raised over his head, enforced obedience and 
submission. They immediately bound his hands at |^is 
back, with the throat-latcli of the bridle, and, with their cap- 
tive, hastily left the place, taking their course in a northern 

Another account states that Hayes was accompanied by a 
Mr. Lamson, who, being an agile and athletic man, outran 
the Indians and effected his escape— that the number of 
Indians, belonging to the party, amounted to five or more ; 
and that the transaction was witnessed by a Mrs. Holcomb, 
wife of Mr. Nathaniel Holcomb, who was in the fields 
that morning milking, but who, from considerations relating 
to her own safety, was deterred from returning home, or 
giving an alarm, until the Indians with their captive had 
left the place. 

Very soon, however, the usual alarm was spread, and a 
force was raised sufficient to make pursuit. Immediate 
effort was made to relieve the captive, and punish tlie 
aggressors. And notice of the calamity having been sent 
to Windsor, a larger force came from that town to the 
rescue. The route taken by the Indians was found and 
traced, and, at times, the marks of their tracks appeared so 
fresh, that strong hopes were entertained of overtaking 
them. But, their superior cunning in such exploits, with 
their Iketness in passing through the wilderness, enabled 
them to avoid iheir pursuers, and escape with their prisontM-. 

Ill the mcun lime Hayes, knowing that any symptoms of 
lagging on his part would probably cost him his life, and 
supposing, moreover, that in no event would his captors, if 
closely pursued, suffer him to live, exerted himself to keep 
up witli them. And he soon found he could do this without 


much fatigue, for he was robust, and accustomed to such 
traveling. On one occasion, during tliis journey, when his 
companions wished to test liis lleetness, he outstripped them 
so far that they were on the point of shooting him to stop 
his progress. He might then have escaped, as he after- 
wards said, " if he had had his thoughts about him." 

On the first night after his capture, the party encamped 
at the foot of Sodom mountain. He was secured during the 
night, by being placed upon his back, with each arm and 
ancle strongly fastened to a sapling, and with sticks so cross- 
ing his body as to be lain upon by an Indian on each side. 
He passed most of the nights, l)ound in this manner, during 
his long march to Canada. On the second day, the party 
crossed Connecticut river, by fording and swimming, and 
spent the ensuing night at the base of Mount Holyoke. 

In this manner, they proceeded from day to day, up the 
valley of Connecticut river and through the wilderness, on 
their route to Canada. Many incidents occurred, which 
Hayes used to relate. One evening, the little savages, 
belonging to a village wbere the party had stopped, 
annoyed him by tickling his feet as he lay before a fire with 
his arms pinioned as usual. Bearing this annoyance as 
long as his patience would allow, he attempted to get rid of 
his tormentors by using his feet in self-defense — during 
which process, some of them were kicked into the fire. He 
expected nothing short of death for this aggression, but was 
agreeably surprised when the fathers of the burnt children, 
instead of offering violence, patted him on his shoulders and 
exclaimed " boon ! "* 

They were nearly thirty days on this journey, during all 
which time the sufferings of poor Hayes were excessive, and 
almost without intermission. Subjected to hard toil through 
each day, with no sustenance save what the forests and 
rivers furnished, and deprived at night of rest, by the man- 

* If this word is correctly handed down, it was intended probably, for the 
French word bon, and used on this occasion to express approbation. The 
northern Indians, at this time, were in the habit of using a few words derived 
from the P'rench. 


ner of binding his limbs, he had that to sustain which, in 
most cases, woukl have brought tlie sufferer to tbe grave. 
But Hayes, if he must be a victim, determined that he at 
least woukl not voluntarily contribute to hasten the sacrifice. 
He possessed that happy faculty of making-, at all times, the 
best of his condition. His cheerfulness, though assumed — 
his ability to (,'ndure fatigue and hardships — and hisapparent 
stoical indifference to his fate, secured the good opinion of 
his comrades, and tended to lighten his burdens, and, possi- 
bly, to prolong his life. Indulgence in despondency could 
bring no relief, and would, as he well knew, but render 
more bitter the cup of his afflictions. He very wisely there- 
fore made up his mind " to make a virtue of necessity," by 
submitting with the best possible grace to that fate which 
he too well knew awaited him. 

The Indians told him, on the journey, of their lying 
about his house on the night before he was taken, and of 
their overhearing the conversation relating to his intention 
to proceed, on the next morning, into the wilderness to find 
his horse ; which information, thus obtained, induced them 
to lie in wait at Stoney hill in order to capture him. 

When they arrived at the great Indian encampment on 
the borders of Canada, the prisoner was delivered over to 
the council of the nation, to be disposed of as tbey should 
adjudge. By their decision, he was doomed to undergo tiie 
painful ordeal of ^^ running the gauntlet.^'' Being stripped 
to his skin, and annointed according to custom, he com- 
menced the course ; and after many flagellations and hard 
knocks received, when approaching near the end of the 
line, being exhausted and faint, he bolted from the course to 
avoid a blow from an upraised war club, and sought safely 
by fleeing into a wigwam, at tlie door of which sat a super- 
annuated and infirm squaw. He was pursued, but the 
sipuiw proclaimed the house sacred, and its inmates pro- 
tected from injury. By her intercession, and especially l)y 
the deference paid to a place thus sanctified according to the 
rites of Indian superstition, " the appetite of tlie savage 
for blood was stayed." 


The squaw, whose husband and only son had fallen in 
war, claimed the captive, and adopted him as her son. 
Slie was destitute, and so infirm as to be unable to walk. 
Hayes, in addition to minor duties, was compelled to provide 
for her sustenance and fuel. He administered to her wants, 
and devoted to her the kindest attentions, — and she, in 
return, evinced her gratitude, by calling him her so7i ! He 
lived in this family about five years ; and although, during 
this time, he fared better, perhaps, than most Indian cap- 
tives, yet existence, in his then condition, had for him but 
few charms, and the future unveiled to his view no cheering 
prospect. tHe was in bondage, compelled to adopt the 
customs and modes of life of savages, and was deprived of 
almost every comfort deemed necessary by civilized people. 
Besides, he could entertain no reasonable hope of being 
restored to his home and kindred — and more than all, his 
life was at the mercy, whim, or caprice, of savage masters. 

One of the tasks imposed upon him, in the winter season 
was to draw upon a sled his Indian mother to such places 
as she wished to visit, and especially to the feasts and coun- 
cil assemblages of her tribe. Upon occasion of a " dog 
feast," which, by the usages of her people, all were expected 
to attend, he proceeded with her, in this manner, until, 
ascending a hill which was steep and slippery, he found his 
strength, when put to its utmost power, barely adequate to 
make any headway. By perseverance and exertion how- 
ever, he was enabled to reach nearly the summit of the hill, 
when he slipped and fell ; and either by design, or inability 
to hold on, left the sled, with its mortal load, to find the 
bottom of the declivity without a pilot — secretly wishing, no 
doubt, that her appetite for riding would be cured by this 
trip. In this perilous adventure, the sled struck a stump 
near the foot of the hill, which capsized the squaw, who 
was severely injured by tbe fall. Whether an accident or 
not, Hayes professed much sorrow for the disaster, and 
managed the affair so adroitly, that he escaped every impu- 
tation of blame, and continued to retain the confidence and 
good opinion of the Indians. 



Slioitly after this event, he was sold to a Frenchman in 
Montreal, through the agency, it is said, of a Papist priest. 
His new master was kind, and allowed him many of the 
necessaries, with some of the luxuries, of life, of which he 
had been so long deprived. Learning that Hayes was by 
trade a weaver, he started him in this business, and by 
allowing him a share of the profits, Hayes was enabled, in 
the course of about two years, to earn money enough to 
purchase his freedom. The good Frenchman not only 
emancipated him, but supplied him with clothes, provisions, 
and a half breed guide to conduct him safely through the 
warring tribes on his journey homeward. The guide pro- 
ceeding with him as far as Mount Holyoke, pointed out to 
him the smokes of his friends, " the pale faces," wished him 
a happy return to his family, and departed, in another direc- 
tion, to wend his way back to Canada. In about twenty-five 
days after leaving Montreal, Hayes had the happiness to 
reach his home, and to exchange hearty greetings and con- 
gratulations with his friends, to whom he appeared almost 
*' as one raised from the dead." 

Thus, after an absence of about seven years, the captive 
was restored to freedom, a home and a happy circle of rela- 
tives and friends. He had heard nothing from his family 
since his capture, nor had they received any tidings of him, 
though they either knew, or had good reason to suppose, 
that he had been taken and carried off by the Indians. His 
friends had llattered themselves, for a long while, that he 
would be spared to return to them, but his long absence had 
extinguished every vestige of hope, and he had for some 
time been given up as lost. 

With buoyant spirits, renovated courage and unshaken 
resolution, he set himself to the task of making up for the 
lost time he had spent with the Indians. His constitution, 
naturally robust, had suffered nothing by his long captivity, 
and his ambition had lost none of its fire. He mariied, 
settled down upon a farm, and within a short time, became 
a thriving agriculturist. In 1720, he built a house which 
is now standing, and is the oldest building in town. It is 


situated on the east side of Salmon brook street, in the lower 
or southern part of the street, and is at present owned by 
Mr. Henry Gillett. In this house religious meetings were 
held during- some four or five years before the erection of 
the first meeting-house in that society, in 1743. 

Mr. Hayes became a prominent citizen, was often em- 
ployed in civil affairs, and during many years, was a pillar 
in the church at Salmon brook, of which he was a member 
at its organization. He lived to see the infant settlement, 
so long exposed to Indian barbarities, a populous village, 
with no crafty enemy to disturb its repose, and strong enough, 
had danger existed, to protect its inhabitants from plunder 
or capture. But, long before his death, all Indian difficul- 
ties had ceased. 

He died in 1756, at the age of seventy-one, and was buried 
in the cemetery at the north end of the village. A red free- 
stone monument marks the spot of his last resting-place, on 
which is inscribed the following epitaph : 



Who served his Generation in steady course of Probity and Piety, 

and was a lover of Peace, and God's Public Worship ; 

And being satisfied with Long life, 

left this world with a Comfortable Hope of life Eternal, 

Sept. 3d, 1756, 

in ye 71 year of his Age. 

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